Thursday, March 4, 2010
Moog Satellite reference sheet from the 1970s.
Seen this reference sheet on eBay a couple of times recently - but I haven't run across a higher-res scan of it on the InterWebz. It is a great piece - from the stylized photo and rounded font used on the front side, to the creative use of text (crazy adjectives and name dropping!) and reference information on the back!
There is unfortunately no date on this reference sheet, but the opening text introduces this keyboard as their 'newest dimension in sound' suggesting it may have come out early on in the Satellite's production run. Comparing it to other Moog sheets, the design doesn't match Moog's family of reference sheets from 1975 or 1980.
The Satellite is a single VCO preset synthesizer that was apparently built by Moog to compete with the ARP Pro-Soloist (read my blog posts on the Soloist, Pro-Soloist, and Soloist Mk II if you are not familiar with that run of keyboards). Surprisingly, the Satellite's production run went from approximately 1974-1979, while its more powerful dual VCO sibling, the Minitmoog, was introduced in 1975 and only lasted for a year or so.
The Minitmoog didn't just offer up twice as many VCOs either, it also offered up more than twice as many presets. The Satellite's presets included Brass, Reed, String, Bell, and Lunar, while the Minitmoog up'd the ante by including Trumpet, Oboe, Clarinet, Sax, Taurus, Violin, Piano, Guitar I, Guitar II, Aries, Lunar and Flute.
So why the quick demise of the Minitmoog? Just a few minutes on Google will tell ya - it just wasn't built very well and there were major issues with its aftertouch.
But, enough about the Minitmoog - and back to the Satellite.
The book 'Vintage Synthesizers' by Mark Vail (the chapter 'The Rise & Fall of Moog Music' written by Connor Frerr Cochran & Bob Moog) offers up a great anecdote about the Satellite and how it fit into the sale of Moog to Norlin.
As the story goes, when Moog Music showed the Satellite at NAMM in 1973, it was definitely a hot product but wasn't in the production queue yet. So Moog Music decided to sell the rights to build Satellites instead of building them in-house. The Thomas Organ Company bought the rights to build 5,000 Satellites for a royalty of $75 a piece, and also built Satellites into its organs for $15 a piece. This apparently came out to a wholesale royalty of around 40% - astonishingly higher than the usual 5% seen in the industry at the time. $375,000 of income from the royalties showed up on Moog's income and expense statement that year creating an operating profit of 25% for Moog Music. Again, astonishingly high. Norlin, not realizing this was a one-time event, apparently ended up buying the company based on these numbers.
I love a good anecdote.
For some great close up shots of a Satellite in great condition, check out this Web site . You can also find some more information on the combo organs that sported the Satellite on, where else, but combo-organ.com. The Satellite was slapped on to at least a couple of different models, including the extremely space-age looking Cordovox CDX 0652 as well as the not-so-space-age looking Thomas/Moog organ.
Credit should go where credit is due - I got a lot of the information above at the usual spots: